I saw the glory of the God of Israel coming from the east. His voice sounded like the roar of mighty waters, and the earth shone with His glory.... Then the Spirit lifted me up and brought me to the inner court, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple.
DEFINITION: God’s glory is the display of His greatness, goodness, and beauty so that persons are aware of Him through sensory experiences such as sight and sound. To glorify God means to respond to His revealed glory in the ways Scripture teaches, such as praise, love, joy, and obedience.
Glory in the Old Testament usually represents a word meaning heaviness or weight (Hebrew kabod). Not surprisingly therefore, human beings have often recognized God’s glory in weighty or massive appearances: snow-capped mountains, starry skies, roaring oceans, or a splendid house of worship such as Solomon’s temple or a medieval cathedral. God’s majesty or worthiness was particularly revealed when His presence accompanied the Israelites from Egypt. When the cloud rested on Sinai, Moses saw God’s glory (Ex 24:15-18). That glory was also associated with the tabernacle in the wilderness and the Jersualem temple (Ex 40:34-35; 2 Ch 7:1-3). Many Jewish sources used the term shekinah (meaning “that which dwells,” but not found in Hebrew Scripture) to refer especially to the manifested presence of God.
In the New Testament, the Greek word for glory is doxa, as in the title of the classic hymn, “The Doxology” (literally, “a word of glory”). In the Gospels God’s glory was seen by shepherds at Jesus’ birth and by the disciples throughout His ministry (Lk 2:9; Jn 1:14). Jesus’ death and resurrection displayed the glory of God (Jn 12:23-28; Lk 24:26). The second coming of Jesus will powerfully reveal God’s glory (Mk 8:38).
The Epistles teach that the glory of Christ and the glory of God are one and the same. The implications for followers of Christ are astounding. Paul told the Corinthians, “God, who said, ‘Light shall shine out of darkness’—He has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Co 4:6). Thus, in the original creation, God’s glory was manifested by the creation of light. Now in the new creation—sinners made into saints—God’s glory has been experienced in human hearts, formerly dark places, “in the face of Jesus Christ.”
Throughout the ages Christians have believed that God does all things for His glory. The logic is simply this: because God is the greatest, best, and most beautiful Being, then the most wonderful thing He can do is display Himself. This, in turn, means that human beings who have truly experienced His glory can’t help but respond positively. To glorify God is to attach weight or worthiness to Him—and then to respond with all one’s might (see Ps 150). One of the great documents of English speaking Christians, The Westminster Confession, famously stated, “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” Paul wrote, “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for God’s glory” (1 Co 10:31).
REFLECTION: Which displays of God’s greatness, goodness, and beauty have moved you the most? How can you be more intentional about glorifying God day by day? Do you enjoy God? How?
PRAYER: Lord of glory, You have shown your greatness in all Your creation. You have revealed Your goodness through Jesus Christ. Your beauty is seen in all that You are and do. Teach us Your servants to glorify You through all our days unto eternity. Amen.